How Buying a House Across from Church Changed a Woman’s Life
QUEENS VILLAGE — Even before Carmen Cruz set foot in Our Lady of Lourdes Church, she felt a connection to the parish.
When Cruz and her husband, William, moved to Queens Village in 1973, they purchased a house across the street from Our Lady of Lourdes.
“When my husband and I were looking for a house, I told the real estate people I had to live near a church,” she said. “I wanted a house near shopping, transportation, and a church.”
The couple raised their two daughters in the house. Their daughters were 3 and 6 years old when the couple moved in — they are now 50 and 53 respectively.
Carmen and William Cruz were married in 1962. Before moving to Queens Village, they lived in Greenpoint, where they attended St. Cecilia’s Church.
The Queens Village house has an interesting connection to the Diocese of Brooklyn. It is the house where Msgr. John Keppler, the pastor emeritus of American Martyrs Parish, grew up. “We bought the house from his mother,” Carmen noted.
The first thing the couple did when they moved across the street from Our Lady of Lourdes was to visit the rectory. They registered as parishioners and also enrolled their daughters in Our Lady of Lourdes School.
Slowly but surely, Carmen and William Cruz became active parishioners. Today, nearly 50 years after they first walked into the church, they still devote much of their lives to the parish. They are Eucharistic Ministers and can usually be found at the Spanish language Mass every Sunday at 9 a.m.
“I love this parish. Everybody knows everybody. We don’t hug and kiss now because of the coronavirus. But we used to,” Carmen said.
She also volunteers at the church’s food pantry where they “make sure to be careful when we hand out the food — masks, gloves, all that.”
Carmen worked at Our Lady of Lourdes School as a cleaner for many years and loved the job, but over time came to realize that God had another duty for her. So, she left her job to devote herself to life as a Eucharistic Minister.
“While I was working at Our Lady of Lourdes School, I went on my lunch breaks to bring Holy Communion to the homebound. After 18 years, I decided to stop working and make it my full-time ministry,” she said.
Carmen also brought Communion to patients at Mary Immaculate Hospital but COVID-19 has put a temporary hold on that activity. However, she’s not worried: “I trust in God I will be back.”
When churches in the Diocese of Brooklyn were closed, she watched the Masses broadcast on NET-TV.
“I liked it but I didn’t like not being able to receive Holy Communion,” Carmen said. “We started coming back to church in September. I feel so good now because I am receiving Jesus.”